BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation is still granting new businesses money from the $2 million donated by the Musk Foundation in June, but they say those funds will soon be exhausted.
“The time is now! Brownsville is changing,” said Josh Mejia, executive director of the BCIC.
Mejia said that they received applications from many in the Rio Grande Valley and from others out of state, but restrict the accepted applicants to no more than 10 per round.
“It could be an existing business that has been here a long time, it could be a new business that’s looking to expand into the downtown area, or it could be a property owner looking to make improvements to their building,” said Mejia.
In the first round of applications, five applicants were selected in the first round and about eight are being considered for the second round as new business projects for the downtown area.
According to Mejia, within the last three years, more than $17 million in private investment has been attracted to Downtown Brownsville through the Business Improvement and Growth (BIG) program.
“What we want to do as a community is to prove is that we are engaging and activating the type of revitalization that we’ve all wanted for many, many years,” said Mejia.
One local recipient was awarded $100,000 from the BCIC to invest in the renovation of the historic Samano building in downtown Brownsville.
“So, I’m standing in the location of what will be Armand’s grocery, a grocery store that we will be putting into operation to address the food desert that is here in downtown Brownsville,” said OLeo Barrera, the director of real estate development at Come Dream, Come Build.
Barrera said they plan for the top floors to include office spaces and apartment spaces.
“BCIC awarded us $100,000 for this project $80,000 of which will be put towards first floor renovations and $20,000 top floor renovations,” said Barrera.
Although $700,000 has been granted from the $2 million, there is a third round of applications coming and Mejia said it won’t stop there.
“We don’t want folks to think that as soon as these funds run out that there won’t be any more assistance, our BIG program, has been alive and well for the past three years.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify where some investment money came from.